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May 4, 2021

Law school launches new internship program in innovation

Program pairs students with employers dedicated to changing the practice of law

When you think about innovative professions, law may not be the first thing that comes to mind. For students, faculty and staff at UCalgary Law, innovation lies at the core of what the law school stands for. When a North American legal innovation training program was put on hold due to the global pandemic, the law school’s Career & Professional Development Office (CPDO) knew they couldn’t stand idle.

“Preparing students for the modern legal marketplace is one of our top priorities at UCalgary Law,” explains CPDO director Maryanne Forrayi. “We saw an opportunity to create a unique new program specifically for our students, to learn from innovative employers and gain experience in the key skills required for the business of law in the 21st century.”

Hands-on learning in process mapping, project management

The Innovation Internship Training Program connects current law students with forward-thinking employers in the legal profession to help companies and law firms address and overcome key business challenges. The program, developed by Kyla Sandwith of De Novo Inc., will allow students to gain hands-on experience in key methodologies used for identifying, developing and implementing solutions to industry issues, including process mapping, stakeholder needs identification, project management, and communication. Students will also develop a broad understanding of data analytics and legal technology solutions, and how they may be leveraged to support solutions for the industry.

Nine current students will work with seven employers, including the Alberta Court of Appeal, the Law Society of Alberta, Simplex Legal, Athennian, Ackah Business Immigration Law, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, and Donna Purcell QC Law.

Emma Arnold-Fyfe

First-year law student Emma Arnold-Fyfe.

Program built in spirit of law school’s history

“As an alumna, I recall innovation in legal education always being a priority at UCalgary Law as it focused on practical real-world skills in addition to strong academics,” says Donna Purcell, QC, JD’88. “As the school advances this new Innovation Internship Program, it is a privilege to hire the best talent in the form of law students who learn how to lead innovation.

"This is needed now more than ever to transform both the delivery of legal services and access to justice."

First-year student Emma Arnold-Fyfe was excited to learn about the new program, and quickly applied to become one of the first students to participate.

“Participating in the Innovation Internship Program thus far has been an immensely rewarding and exciting experience,” says Arnold-Fyfe. “Receiving advice from experienced professionals in the field of law and legal innovation has greatly enriched my ability to innovate within any environment, and I eagerly await applying this knowledge while with Ackah Business Immigration Law this summer.

"Pairing innovative strategies with client-centred projects, my work this summer will actively work towards decreasing accessibility barriers so prevalent within the legal community, and I am grateful to be armed with knowledge from the forefront of legal innovation while doing so.”

A Zoom screenshot of students in the Innovation Internship Program orientation

Law students participated in the orientation sessions for the new Innovation Internship Program.

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